Gotta catch 'em all at training camp: Earl Watford is the Arizona Cardinals' resident Pokemon master

Posted at 10:46 AM, Aug 02, 2016
and last updated 2016-08-02 13:46:44-04

Training camp has gotten in the way of Earl Watford's Pokémon mastery.

Annoying, isn't it?

"Yeah, sometimes. But, you know, football is a priority right now," said the Arizona Cardinals' offensive lineman, who has nonetheless declared himself the best Pokémon Go player on the entire roster.

"It's been tough, you know, practice and everything. You can't walk many places but between here and the hotel. You try to do what you can, catch what you can and make the most of it."

Watford, the Cardinals' 2013 fourth-round draft pick, has spent a great deal of time and energy catching as many Pikachus, Charmanders and Jigglypuffs as possible. And lest you think Watford is the only Pokémon nerd on the roster... he said many of his teammates are obsessed, as well.

"There's a good amount of us. We talk smack about it. But they all know who's the best," he said.

"We've got a couple trainers playing, too. I think they're cheating, though. No hacks here. Wherever I am, I'm catchin' 'em." 

See also: The best places to catch elite Pokémon in the Valley

Like many millennials, the 26-year-old Watford grew up watching Pokémon on TV and playing the numerous card and video games associated with it. Pokémon Go, which was released in July, is already the most downloaded app ever.

"When the (app) came out, I was super excited about it among millions of other people," he said.

So, which of the three Pokémon teams did you decide to join, Earl?

"Team Mystic. The blue (team)," he said. "I don't know why I chose it. It could've been a number of things.

"It's exciting. We got a couple guys that keep trying to beat me out for my gym here at the stadium."

That's right: There's a Pokémon "gym" located at University of Phoenix Stadium. Watford had controlled the gym with the Pokémon he's accrued but has since been dethroned by his teammates. He said It's only a matter of time before he reclaims it.

"They can keep trying but I'll take it back," he said.

On Tuesday, Cardinals coach Bruce Arians was asked if he's caught any of his players trying to catch Pokémon. "I don't even know what the hell that is," Arians replied.

Watford said that will probably change soon.

"He will (know) now, though, after you've interviewed all the guys," he said. "Maybe he'll download it. We'll see."

Watford's main focus, of course, is battling for a starting job on the Cardinals' offensive line. The 6-foot-4, 300-pounder said Pokémon is simply an entertaining diversion from the rigors of training camp.

"No one's betting on anything. It's just good old fun just to see what Pokémon we haven't caught or ones we haven't seen," he said. "It's exciting. The stadium's full of them.

"If I'm catching Pokémon I haven't caught yet or something I haven't seen, that's always a plus. It's a good day."